Monday, December 21, 2009


Good morning! Mackenzie, Shannon, and I have been busy bees! Kenz beaded herself a lovely Christmas necklace, while Shannon was a craft maniac. She has created an adorable gift tag, a Navy-themed picture frame for her grandfather, and an AMAZING cut-paper piece for her sister.. which I can't post until after Christmas. No peeking! I spent last night working on a framed layout of our most recent trip to Tucson on December 12. All the papers are from the Wonderful Winter pad by My Mind's Eye. I found it at Michael's a few weeks back and I'm using it for everything! Love it!

The annual trip has become a beloved tradition over the past 9 years and we wouldn't miss it for the world. We spend the day light hours slowly shopping the 4th Avenue Street Fair, where other artisans and small businesses set up booths facing both sides of the almost-mile-long boulevard. There's jewelry, clothing, artwork, crafts, food, music... you name it. This year's purchases include a print of a pop-style Wicked Witch, a lovely pearl and beaded necklace and bracelet set, and some of the most delicious kettle korn ever!
After the Fair, we always dine at Mandarin Grill Chinese restaurant - by no means fancy, but special to us nonetheless. And the Sesame Chicken is to die for!
We wrapped up the evening hayriding through Winterhaven, a long standing neighborhood where nearly all the homes decorate extravagantly for the holidays and the HOA decks out all the common areas. Admission is free, although the local food banks graciously request canned good donations. You can walk, carriage ride, hayride (our usual method), or even drive through on specified nights. This year the weather was perfection, the crowd jovial, and it definitely put us in the Christmas spirit.
For now, housework is calling, then wrapping all of Shanni's Christmas gifts. Harry Connick, Jr. and Karen Carpenter are crooning carols on the radio, there's a fresh batch of noel pecan balls in the kitchen, and the tree is aglow. It doesn't get any better than this. Hope you find your Christmas spirit too!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Most Wonderful...

month of the year. While we've been making a concerted effort to actually ENJOY this season, not rush through it tackling one task after another, this holiday season still seems to be blowing by. We did pause to celebrate my graduation, earning my M.Ed. in Educational Supervision and Administration last Thursday.

And we're doing everything we can to make time to craft and bake and bask in all the traditions we love most.

Friday night, we went in to Phoenix for a handmade gift exchange with some long time friends. Last night I made Shannon's favorite Oatmeal Molasses cookies while she finished up some shopping. And tonight Mackenzie's going to sleep over - I'm guessing we'll spend the rest of the day making cards, tags, and watching either Elf or The Grinch. Either way, we'll have ourselves a fling! :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Time sure seems to be flying lately. And the faster it goes, the more precious it becomes. We just celebrated Shanni's birthday. On Thanksgiving, we put candles in her apple pie and partied with Mom and Dad. But on her birthday proper, we went to Sushi Broker's for my first official sushi dinner. Delish! And afterward she had a chance to blow out the candles on a real birthday cake.

Monday, she and I went to a new doctor to plan the start of our family. I can't tell you how ready we are to be parents, and how much we are hoping to be blessed with a healthy new baby.

And, on the other end of the spectrum, my friend Kathy lost her mother Carol this weekend. Only 66, she had long battled with aneurisms, lung cancer, and many other health issues, and her poor, tired body finally gave in. Absolutely heartbreaking. My love and prayers go to Kathy and her family.

In the midst of all these crazy life events, births and deaths, it reminds me to treasure every moment I have with my parents. So often, I get bogged down with the burden of care-taking, the worry, the inconvenience, the frustration with Mom's illness, forgetfulness, carelessness and Dad's gruffness and poor planning. But none of that crap matters. What matters is I can still pick up the phone and hear their voices, drive literally around the corner and hold their hands. And, when we can't take it any more, we can yell and fight, too. I made dinner on Monday night and took them half of the meatloaf, and last night we went to dinner together at Long John Silver's. My goal this holiday season is to stay focused on what a gift it is to still have my parents with me, strive to be a care-giver, and to celebrate our time together.

Wishing you and your family love and time.....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Shannon and I had a craft happy weekend, and we loved it! She finished her amazing box project, which we can't show you yet because it's going to win us the grand prize! And I crafted my December Daily, an ornament, and a Christmas planner for Rosie.

At the end of this paper blitz, Shannon had the brilliant idea to photograph it and post it on Two Peas. Well, the response has been incredible. People love knowing that there are other sloppy, disorganized, too-small, non-custom, perfectly imperfect scrap rooms out there! We've been in the top ten since Sunday; we even spent a long time at number one yesterday! Too fun.

It gets better. I logged on to Facebook yesterday, checked the Cosmo Cricket page as I always do, and found my Early Bird layout with Rose and I posted as their Fan Creation of the day! I've been waiting for weeks, and finally yesterday was the day! It's so thrilling to see my work being viewed and celebrated by other CC fans. Awesome!

So this afternoon with my students, we worked on Thanksgiving poems and reflecting on the things in life for which we are most grateful. During our brainstorming session, I came up with a wonderful list of my life's blessings. I'm not always the most positive person, and I often lose sight of just how many gifts I've been given. The lesson was for my sixth graders, but they weren't the only ones learning.

So here's my list. I hope we all take time this week to really pause and reflect and count those blessings, even the ones that like to disguise themselves as annoying burdens most of the time.

For my home - warm, turkey-scented, full of love, and all mine

For my job, and its endless give and take

For the inspiration to craft and create, document and remember

For Aunt Rita's soup and keeping family traditions alive

For naps after dinner

For the 33rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade I will watch with my daddy

For the chance to again gather around the table with the people I love most

For Zach and Kenzie, who own my heart and are just starting to realize what that means

For Rosie, who keeps me grounded and still lets me float away with my dreams sometimes

For Shanni, my life and my life line, my purpose and my sanity

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Highs and Lows

Life really seems to be full of them right now.

Highs... crafting, prepping for the holidays, planning the beginning of our family, time with dear friends. Today had a particularly sweet high point. I allowed one of my favorite students to turn in an assignment late today, not because he's a favorite, but because he is a very responsible, conscientious, and high-achieving student. This forgotten assignment was definitely out of character for him. So he turned in his vocab flashcards one day late. Problem is, I didn't have a special today and didn't get a chance to grade them. I found them in my turn in basket after school, but the vocabulary test is tomorrow. So I called his mom and offered to drop them off on my way home. When I arrived, they were so welcoming and so excited. My student gave me a complete tour of his home, including his room, his cat, and his gorgeous backyard. He even invited me to come back again to have dinner with his family. Not your typical 12-year-old behavior! You'd think I was royalty the way they treated me! Too sweet.

With the school year I'm having, I needed a reminder of how awesome students and their families can be.

But the lows seem so numerous right now too. One of my dearest friend's mother was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and my heart is just broken for him and his family. Cancer seems to be everywhere right now and it's petrifying. My best friend's SO is going on dialysis because his kidneys are failing. Scary. Shannon is so worried about the economy, as am I, and wants to consider postponing (again) the start of our family. This may be the first year my whole family won't be together for Thanksgiving and I can't bear to think about it. Stupid blended family bullshit.

And my school year is kicking my ass. I have never had so many high maintenance students, or parents, in my career. Every day is just exhausting.. meetings, phone calls, voice mails, emails. I just want to scream, "What do you want me to do?!!!" I didn't cause the problem, I can't fix the problem. Like it or not, your child is going to *have* to function in the real world someday and it's our responsibility to start preparing them now. And I won't apologize for that.

Eh. It will all work itself out eventually, right? With hope, love, forgiveness, and prayers (though He's on my shit list right now), this too shall all pass. There's Glee on my DVR, Shannon on her way home to me, and this darling little project going into the scrapbook. It ain't all bad....

Monday, November 9, 2009

Holy Moly! October was an absolute blur! Sometimes life is so busy, so frantic, at times downright chaotic, that I cannot fathom how people with children handle it. Right now it's just Shannon and I, a small handful of pets, 2 incredibly demanding jobs, and a pair of aging parents, and I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. I'd better take a deep breath though, because we are diving headlong into the holiday season.

October did end with a fabulous Halloween party. I wanted to throw a good ole fashioned backyard party, full of classic fall charm. So Rose, John, Matt, Kenzie, Zach, Kori, Grace, Joel, Deb, Bianca, Angelica, Chrissy, Steve, Crimson, Mom, Dad, and of course, Shannon and I, had a wonderful time carving and painting jack-0-lanterns, bobbing for apples, and decorating cookies. The biggest hits were the basket full of random masks people enjoyed trying on and the barfing pumpkin centerpiece.

After enjoying the bounty of autumn, we look now toward the upcoming Holiday season. I love Halloween, and hosting Thanksgiving brings me joy, but there's absolutely nothing better than Christmas. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. The tree, the lights, the music, the shopping, gathering with loved ones, traditions.... All my favorite things. This charming little snowman card is kicking off the most wonderful time of the year, for family, friends, and crafting!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Halloween and scary ghosts

Today marks another fabulous Sunday. Dinner is already roasting in the oven, Shanni is frosting cupcakes for my mom's birthday, and all the Halloweenie decorations are up. Zach and Kenz just stopped by to scoop Gracie poop and earn a few bucks. All the doors and windows are wide open, letting in a cool, autumn breeze. Even Minerva, our real life Halloween kitty, is sitting on the window sill soaking it all in. It doesn't get any better than this.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Quiet Sunday mornings in the fall bring me joy. Waking up before Shannon, sitting outside in fresh air that's *almost* cool, watching Gracie sniff every square inch of our little yard, soaking in the silence... simple blessings, you know.
Speaking of simple blessings, I'm taking my mom to play Bingo today with a few friends. I can't say I am looking forward to it necessarily, but I know my mother will have a great time. Just getting out of the house to go someplace other than a doctor's appointment is so meaningful to her. Doing the right thing is easy for me... it's having the right attitude about it that's a struggle.

Shannon and I did squeeze in a little artsy fartsy time last night. She worked on a few bracelets for her (hopefully) upcoming jewelry show in November. I worked on this frame. Taking the kids to Science Camp is my very favorite part of being a 6th grade teacher. But when I bring my camera, I either a) forget to use it, b) take pictures of students - sweet, but not really personally relevant in the long run, or c) end up with pictures of scenery. Last year, Mrs. Clare came up for a spontaneous visit and served as our camera happy camp historian. She grabbed this shot of me sitting in real, lush grass dappled by sunlight. Ahh, dappled sunlight. I found it last night and had to create a way to display it. Thanks for the creative button consultation, Shanni. :)

Time to start the business of the day. I'm thankful for the leisurely start. G 53. BINGO!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home again

Mom came home from the hospital this evening.... again. This was her 4th stay in a bit over a year. We can't seem to help her understand that it's her choices - the no-shoes, the improper diet, the ignoring minor cuts on her feet - that keep putting her back there. This time, she's been dealing with a wound on her ankle that's been grafted a number of times, looked healthy on the outside, but the infection had reached the bone. So 5 days in the hospital receiving intense antibiotics, and we'll continue that regimen at home now for the next 6 weeks.

This aging, ailing parent thing has to be one of the hardest phases of life. Wanting to honor their dignity, but needing to intervene so often for their own safety. Some days I handle it well, some days I cry, some days I rage. Today I just chose to make her a card with an honest, heart-felt message inside. Just trying to find *something* that will make it sink in. Please just pray she quits ignoring the fact that she's diabetic and starts protecting her poor feet!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Weekend's Work

Shannon and I set out this weekend with a goal of spending NO money on shopping for anything besides food. We *almost* made it - only spent an extra 16 bux at Scrapbooks, Etc. for some paper and ink. BUT it was soooo worth it! I finished my Halloween banner, and I couldn't be more pleased.
Shanni is feeling much the same way about her Fates. She finished panel two today, after two straight days of work. Her back aches and her fingers are stained, but her painting is amazing! She'll post it when they're complete.

I love these weekends we spend creating. I know if we had our way, and a limitless supply of money, we could happily quit our jobs and dabble in our respective arts full time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of MY year...

I LOVE fall. I love leaves, I love the weather, I adore pumpkins, Halloween makes my heart sing, and just *thinking* about Thanksgiving dinner already has my mouth watering. So, to kick off the season right, I've created a few fall-themed goodies.

First, was the banner. I must admit, I have a serious thing for banners right now. In fact, I plan on spending most of today working on a creepy Halloween banner for my mom.... unless I love it too much, then I might just have to keep it. :P

Then last night, was a Halloween card hootenanny. Since we have to weigh-in on Saturday mornings, Friday nights can no longer revolve around happy hour and big dinners. So Shannon and I decided to dedicate them to staying home... crafting, cleaning, watching movies, or whatever strikes our fancy. Last night, creating these struck my fancy!

Shannon has also been on a bit of a creative spree as well, designing more gorgeous jewelry (which my colleagues at work can't get enough of), and she tried her hand at a cut paper collage piece. Last Sunday night, she spent hours pouring through page after page of etsy art projects. She said it was like visiting the world's biggest an art gallery right at her own kitchen table. Well, she fell in love with a few pieces by, particularly The Girl with the Most Colorful Umbrella. So she reinterpretted it with paper. As do all of her projects, it turned out to be AMAZING! Shannon would like to graciously thank the original artist for the inspiration.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Crafty Goodness

We're in the midst of enjoying a wonderfully relaxed Labor Day weekend....

Shanni was so wise as to suggest cleaning the house on Friday night so we wouldn't have to think about it the rest of the weekend, so we did. We spent yesterday eating and crafting and eating some more. The day ended with a mixed-bag visit to Barro's Pizza - perfect honey hot wings, crappy pizza (where was the light sauce and fluffy crust we love you for?).

Today we took a short jaunt up north to Payson, just for a change of scenery. We enjoyed a tasty lunch at the Buffalo, toured some neighborhoods for a potential weekend house, and finished our afternoon with some freshly scooped ice cream.

Now, we're crafting again. Shanni is making her gorgeous, sought-after beaded bracelets....
And I just finished an ATC-sized minibook about all the things I'm focused on in life right now... some that bring me joy and some that I just know are the right thing to do. Long live 3 day weekends...